When Independence Is in Your DNA
At 300 Entertainment, colleagues are family, and everything is in service of artists and their art
Kevin Liles, founder and CEO of 300 Entertainment, has been a part of the music industry for 35 years, but hasn’t worked a day in his life. Growing the country’s top independent record label isn’t a job, he says—it is his purpose. That is not to say he and the team do not work hard. While there is a misconception that the music industry is all concerts and nightclubs, it is actually a service business, and service is a 24/7 operation. “People [at 300 Entertainment] take personal ownership, not only in the job that they do, but in every artist and every partner we have,” he explains. “I don’t believe people look at hours or how much they are making. I think they look at, ‘Am I making a difference?”
“WE ARE NOT THEM”
Liles co-founded the company alongside Lyor Cohen and Roger Gold in 2012 to humanize the music industry. Partner Rob
Stevenson, who joined the team after 20 years with a major label, says 300 is different than other record labels. “This is not a business of things. It’s not a business of CDs or downloads or vinyl or t-shirts; it’s a business of people. A lot of companies don’t understand that. We do,” he says.
At 300, diversity is celebrated among artists as well as in the boardroom: 42 percent of its C-Suite employees are women, and 43 percent are BIPOC. C0O Matthew Signore says the business believes supporting artists takes creative talent and has reverence for “the art of artist development.” Risk-taking is encouraged at all levels, and genres do not matter. This approach has facilitated number-one records, hundreds of Diamond, Platinum, and Gold certifications, and billions of song streams. More importantly, it has allowed artists such as Megan Thee Stallion, Fetty Wap, Young Thug, and Gunna to express themselves freely.
“THIS IS A FAMILY”
To Liles, the Inc. Best Workplaces designation is “not an award, but a reward” for how hard the company works to serve artists and employees and create a collaborative, family-like culture. Artist needs come first, but 300 respects work-life balance, and employees work together to accommodate each other’s personal lives. “We all have a real understanding of the responsibility we have to each other,” Signore says. The company prioritizes employee well-being, for example, by investing in student loan reimbursement, gym memberships and therapy, and a house in the Hamptons for the team to use, free of charge. “We can’t be the best company if you’re not the best you,” Liles explains.
“Being the best you” was harder during Covid. The company helped by introducing an employee stipend for rest and relaxation and starting a relief fund for staff and their family. Liles committed to keeping everyone employed during the crisis. In fact, 2020 was 300’s biggest year yet. The company forecasts continued growth and international expansion. It is hiring, but not for specific positions. It is about the person, not a role. “I believe there are like-minded people around the world who believe they were truly born to live a life of independence
and make a difference,” Liles says. “My mission is to find them.”